With £44 billion spent each year across government on external contracts, GLD’s Commercial Law Group has an important role in ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, and the best outcomes for users of government services.
In a recent blog, Sir Jeremy Heywood, Head of the Civil Service, stressed the importance of the Civil Service having ‘the best commercial skills to plan, procure and manage contracts’. He quoted an ongoing programme of changes to the DWP estate as an example of good practice in commercial management. With DWP currently occupying around 1.5 million square metres of space combined with the falling claimant count and the increased use of online services means that 20% of their rent is going toward space they are no longer using. In response, they have sought to redesign their estate in a way that delivers value for the taxpayer while continuing to provide vital support to their claimants and customers.
GLD’s commercial lawyers played an important part in the development of this major programme, working closely with DWP and commercial colleagues to steer the department through the legal risks and produce the necessary legal documentation. The DWP estate covers some 900 buildings across the country, making the legal advice high volume, high value, high complexity and very challenging. The GLD legal team was responsible for leading the legal work to exit the current PFI contract and the procurements for new services to run the future estate. The project is expected to realise savings of £180 million a year over the next decade, as a result of securing heads of terms for a commercial deal on rents and savings on facilities management.
Wendy Hardaker, Director of GLD’s Commercial Law Group, said:
This project was a particularly complex and technical piece of work, and one that puts lawyers right at the heart of government decision making. Overall the estates transformation has the potential to realise huge savings for taxpayers over the coming years and set up a major department for the future – this is a hugely satisfying part of being a government lawyer.
GLD’s Commercial Law Group was established 2 years ago and will make a significant contribution to the Government Commercial Organisation (GCO) and in strengthening the capability of civil servants working in the commercial function across central government.